Can I boot via USB?

edited March 2 in ALL-H3-CC

Hi! I'm thinking of buying a Libre Computer board from Amazon, and I was wondering about something before I buy it. I was wondering if I could install and boot a Linux-based OS (preferably Xubuntu) from a USB device such as an external hard drive, rather than using an SD card as is the common way to do it. Thanks!

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  • AFAIK, most of the images Libre provided boots from SD card or EMMC module. For USB boot, we will probably need a bootloader that is capable of booting from Mass Storage Devices. Perhaps @loverpi can shine some light on this topic... would like to know as well!

  • edited March 2

    I don't really see the point in doing this "as far as booting from USB". It's going to run slower than eMMC and SDCARDS. At least that's my experience when doing it using other boards.

    I could see editing /etc/fstab so that it uses the USB storage device as your HOME directory, but other than that, seems pretty pointless and even that seems like overkill.

    Plus, I don't know that it would work with all of their lineup. For example, the ALL-H3/H5 can't even spin up a drive, although I've never tested a SSD on it and the Renegade is hit-and-miss when it comes to it's USB3 port. Rockchip in general really, at least the boards I've used.

    I think anything is possible, but I really don't see a use case for this. Of course, unless your goal is to just have an overall slower running system.

  • edited March 17

    Assuming to have LePotato with 18.04.2 image on the microSD and an USB memory stick inserted with another 18.04.2 image (e.g. xfce) you can boot from USB via grub prompt:

    grub> configfile (hd0,msdos2)/@lc…...xfce/boot/grub/grub.cfg

  • edited March 17

    You need to specify which device you are referring to. Each board is different. Generally they need to have a MicroSD card or eMMC to boot. In the second generation Libre Computer boards like RK3399 and S805X, you can boot directly off USB since the firmware is loaded on SPI NOR. Again, you need to specify which device you are referring to because the process is different for each.

  • Thank you all for all your comments and suggestions!

    @loverpi said:
    You need to specify which device you are referring to. Each board is different. Generally they need to have a MicroSD card or eMMC to boot. In the second generation Libre Computer boards like RK3399 and S805X, you can boot directly off USB since the firmware is loaded on SPI NOR. Again, you need to specify which device you are referring to because the process is different for each.

    I didn't know which one I wanted to buy when I wrote the post, but I now have bought the Tritium H5. It boots very slowly from the SD card and has many graphical errors when using the provided Ubuntu Xfce image. I'm not familiar with eMMC. Do you know of an easy to understand tutorial for how to use them? I'm very new at SBCs and want to learn.

  • We need to release new images for Tritium. The current images do not use cache for storage access so pre-linux is incredibly slow. With regards to eMMC, you can run sudo lc_redetect_emmc after attaching it to the board. Make sure to use the eMMC 4.x modules though since Tritium does not support the 5.x modules.

  • @loverpi said:
    We need to release new images for Tritium. The current images do not use cache for storage access so pre-linux is incredibly slow. With regards to eMMC, you can run sudo lc_redetect_emmc after attaching it to the board. Make sure to use the eMMC 4.x modules though since Tritium does not support the 5.x modules.

    Okay. I don't know anything about eMMC modules, though, and I don't know what they have to do with booting from a USB drive. I'd like to learn about them first before I just go out and buy one.
    Also, with the images, I flashed Armbian and it works great! When I use it in one of my monitors, though, the graphics constantly just stop displaying on and off.

  • @CabeoC Please use the Armbian forum for support with Armbian images.

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